|IFL North||IFL Expansion|
|Munich Lions (Germany)||Paris Lafayettes (France)|
|Vienna Lippizaners (Austria)||Cophenhagen Vikings (Denmark)|
|West Berlin Bears (Germany)||Rotterdam Flying Dutchmen (Netherlands)|
|IFL South||Milan Centurions (Italy)|
|Barcelona Almogovares (Spain)|
|Istanbul Conquerors (Turkey)|
|Rome Gladiators (Italy)|
The Intercontinental Football League was the brainchild of Bob Kapp, a Texan who had introduced Professional Soccer to Texas. On seeing the success of the film M*A*S*H in Europe, with its climactic end-sequence featuring an American Football game, he sought to capitalise on the subsequent interest in American Football in the continent. It had been the first time American Football had been seen on the big screen in a mainstream film and audiences were intrigued.
Kapp had enough interest to have sold six franchises by 1973, including Italian Media mogul Bruno Beneck, who had successfully introduced Baseball to Italy, however, the subsequent Oil crisis, and the spectre of Terrorism meant the League never got off the ground. Teams were to have been paired with US Colleges. With no Irish team in the League Notre Dame Fighting Irish were paired with the Rome Gladiators.
The National Football League had also pre-selected four expansion teams: Paris Lafayettes, Cophenhagen Vikings, Rotterdam Flying Dutchmen and Milan Centurions.
It was initially to have played in two divisions, most likely North and South, playing a four-game schedule with a European-style two-game aggregate score Final between the Division winners.
There are four main reasons the IFL failed to take off: Europe wasn’t ready for American Football; Competition with the World Football league (1974-1975) which intended to expand internationally to Mexico City and Tokyo; An NFL players’ strike in the summer on 1974 and the economic recession brought on by the oil crisis.
A final decision to abort the league was taken in a Hotel Room in Hawaii in March 1975, after talks with people in Washington, D.C., and the killer blow, the financial troubles of the Pan-Am Airline which was a major sponsor.
Undeterred Bob Kapp, continued promoting the IFL in Europe, through tours by Colleges and Semi-Pro teams through 1976 to 1978. Bruno Beneck’s Rome Gladiators are still in existence, playing in the Italian League, which was one of the first American Football Leagues in Europe that the IFL gave birth to.
Website / Sources
 Mark L. Ford and Massimo Foglio, The Coffin Corner Volume 27,No. 6, Pro Football Researchers Association (2002) THE FIRST “NFL EUROPE”[Internet] Available from: http://www.profootballresearchers.org/archives/Website_Files/Coffin_Corner/27-06-1101.pdf [Accessed 20 October 2019]
Origins of the WLAF
 Tod Maher, The Coffin Corner Volume 14 No. 2, Pro Football Researchers Association (1992) Origins of the WLAF [Internet] Available from: http://www.profootballresearchers.org/archives/Website_Files/Coffin_Corner/14-02-455.pdf [Accessed 18 September 2020]
 Massimo Foglio with Mark L. Ford (2017), Touchdown in Europe – How American Football Came to the Old Continent. Second Edition “The Trailblazers: Bleu et Rouge, College and Semi-Pro”. pg. 151-188. Published by the Author (2015, 2017)
Thanks to Louise Wills (Kenny) and John Wills and Karl & Clive Saab.
About this document
Researched, compiled and written by Enda Mulcahy for the
Eirball | Irish North American and World Sports Archive
Last Updated: 18 September 2020
(c) Copyright Enda Mulcahy and Eirball 2020
You may quote this document in part provided that proper acknowledgement is given to the authors. All Rights Resereved.